Disney at 50: Walt Disney World’s Golden Birthday Celebration

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Image: Sandra with her husband and son in front of Cinderella's Castle at Disney (Disney at 50: Walt Disney World's Golden Birthday Celebration Sandra Jacquemin Contributor Miami Mom Collective)

Walt Disney World is Celebrating the Magic Kingdom’s 50th Anniversary

…and we were there for the inauguration. Let’s be honest, we could all use a little extra magic this year and Walt Disney World Orlando brought it on October 1st – their 50th Anniversary! I made our reservations to be there in January of this year, and nothing would keep me from it. When Disney celebrates, they go big, and you can expect nothing less for this golden anniversary. Cinderella Castle shines brighter than it ever has before.

If you weren’t there for the big 5-0 on October 1st, don’t worry. The World’s Most Magical Celebration will continue for 18 months. The 50th Anniversary will be celebrated at all four Walt Disney World theme parks through 2022, scheduled to end on April 1, 2023. I will say it was pretty cool to grab some merchandise that was only available to guests on Friday, October 1st. 

There is a lot of ground to cover as all four parks get makeovers, additions, and more for this grand event. If your first question is, Is it worth it? I’m here to tell you, it is. First things first, if you’re planning to visit for the celebration, make sure to check out great tips in our Official Disney Guide from our moms.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE FEATURES OF THE CELEBRATIONS

Beacons of Magic, Entertainment

At each park, new signature lighting and stunning projections take place nightly. Truly overdue, EPCOT now shines with stars connecting on Spaceship Earth, which will be a new permanent fixture well after the celebrations and is breathtaking. The Hollywood Tower at Disney’s Hollywood Studios shines golden with a cinema glam. Along with lighting, projections, and a Royal Makeover last year, Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom features new physical adornments and shines in all its glory.

EPCOT debuted their new fireworks show on October 1, the Harmonious Nighttime Spectacular, Walt Disney World’s largest nighttime show celebrating Disney music worldwide. True to form, Disney delivers with lasers, pyrotechnics, custom-built LED panels and choreographed moving fountains. We watched the show’s inauguration, and it was truly amazing.

Image: Sandra and her family at Epcot (Disney at 50: Walt Disney World's Golden Birthday Celebration Sandra Jacquemin Contributor Miami Mom Collective)
EPCOT’s Spaceship Earth (aka “the big ball”) illuminates the sky with stars that connect and change colors. This new addition is a welcomed one, which will stay long after the celebration is over. (Mummy & Daddy enjoyed, Marcelo was ready for bed).

Magic Kingdom debuted a new nighttime show on October 1st, Disney Enchantment. You will be swept away into the magic with immersive lighting, fireworks, and (for the first time) projections that extend from Cinderella Castle all the way through Main Street U.S.A.

Image: Sandra's family at EPCOT (Sandra Jacquemin Contributor Miami Mom Collective)
EPCOT, so many new additions and exciting features! While much of EPCOT remains under construction the magic surrounds you.
Image: Sandra with her family at Disney's Animal Kingdom (Disney at 50: Walt Disney World's Golden Birthday Celebration Sandra Jacquemin Contributor Miami Mom Collective)
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is part of the celebrations and packed with new shows and attractions. Their new daily show, KiteTails, happens 6 times a day (weather permitting). Recently announced: Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is returning December 19th in time for Christmas. Also, Minnie will join friends of Disney Junior this November making appearances.

The Disney Cavalcades will continue, with, of course, some new updates. Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade in Magic Kingdom will be performed several times throughout the day beginning October 1. All his friends will be included – Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, and Chip ‘n’ Dale – and of course, they will all be sporting their sparkling new EARidescent digs.

ALAS, MY BELOVED FRANCE.

The wait is over for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. We were able to ride on inauguration day as well on October 1st. If you loved the movie, you’ll love the attraction. The 4D culinary adventure is somewhat reminiscent of the popular 1994 ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids’ attraction, but Disney steps it up a notch. Besides the super-cool trackless ride on your own rat car, oversized props and scents touch all senses. One more bonus: it’s family-friendly for any height and age.

(Keep in mind: this ride requires a virtual queue. Here’s what to do: the morning you’re booked for EPCOT set your alarm and keep refreshing on the My Disney Experience app as of 6:55 am. Reservations go live at 7 am. The first boarding group booked in under 30 seconds on October 1st, but we got on!)

Image: Sandra and her son at Remy's Ratatouille Adventure (Disney at 50: Walt Disney World's Golden Birthday Celebration Sandra Jacquemin Contributor Miami Mom Collective)
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is one of Disney’s newest trackless rides, a smooth 4-D awesome fun adventure through Remy’s world, with his POV.

If rides aren’t your thing, you can take a stroll in the newly expanded area of the France pavilion where you are transported to the streets of Paris. Being half-French, I can say, this area made me proud. It truly is nostalgic with lovely structures, gardens, and fountains (the amazing food and drink don’t hurt either). One delicious addition is La Creperie de Paris featuring the cuisine of Chef Jérôme Bocuse (you might recognize the name, he is the son of pioneer chef Paul Bocuse).

Image: Sandra and her family exploring France at EPCOT (Sandra Jacquemin Contributor Miami Mom Collective)
Explore EPCOT at night, the World Showcase is illuminated and you can stay for their new show Harmonious. If you’re looking for something different, try one of our favorite cocktails: Kir Royale.

MORE DISNEY MAGIC

Since the big 5-0 is the golden year, you know Disney had to pay homage properly with their Fab 50 Character Collection. Throughout the four parks, you’ll find 50 golden special characters magically placed. Find your favorites or try to find them all! Among them are Mickey and Minnie of course, Figment, Coco, Chip & Dale, Donald, Daisy, Dumbo, Pooh and tons more.

Because they can, Walt Disney World has also coined a new word, “EARidesence,” to describe the color scheme of everything from Mickey and friends’ outfits to new merchandise celebrating the 50th Anniversary. Expect a lot of EARidescent fabrics and pops of gold on everything from t-shirts to kitchenware. And the magic doesn’t stop there, cupcakes, balloons, and more all shimmer in the same colors.

Image: Micky and Minnie Mouse in front of Cinderella's Castle (Sandra Jacquemin Contributor Miami Mom Collective)
Mickey & Minnie wearing their new “EARidescent” outfits for the celebrations. Photo: WDW News Today, Walt Disney World

[P.S. A few books were released for the celebration, some available only on pre-order, celebrating 50 years of Disney magic. One I found interesting was a cook/coffee table book called Delicious Disney featuring more than 60 recipes from the original chefs, dating back to 1971, their opening date. Look out for new coloring and guidebooks as well.]

THE GOODS, SHOPPING!

Oh how this is a difficult topic! When we walk in the gates, our first thought is take all my money! The sarcastic struggle is real because there is no way to not want everything! The new golden and “EARidescent” fabrics are everywhere and beautiful! 

One of the things I was most excited about was the Vault Collection, introduced to the Emporium boutique at Magic Kingdom on October 1st. The Disney nostalgia is real! Everything vintage is available here, this is where you show your age and love for Disney. I couldn’t leave there without a Mr. Toad Wild’s Ride t-shirt (which my brother got as a gift). It was always my favorite ride! It is also available over at Marketplace Co-Op in Disney Springs. 

Image: Sandra and her son see Minnie Mouse at one of Disney's resorts (Sandra Jacquemin Contributor Miami Mom Collective)
Breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort

SIGNATURE FOOD AND DRINKS

There is nowhere to begin or end with this subject. I’m going to leave this right here. However, expect a lot of new signature food items across all four parks and beyond. We had a little extra dose because the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival was still going on (through November 20). 

Space 220 just opened up, which we did not experience, but hope to during the holidays. (Yes, we are going back.) This is where dining truly meets experience. 

TIPS FOR YOUR TRIP:

  • Do your research. There is so much ground to cover across the four parks, and you won’t be able to experience it all. Pick and choose the things you don’t want to miss!
  • Make flexible plans, because after all, nothing is ever certain – like the weather in Florida. My advice: plan for everything, expect nothing.
  • If you can, book a character breakfast. If you do any meals, and you are with kids, character breakfasts are the way to go. We tried Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort. The menu offerings and plates were unbelievable, service was impeccable and we got to sing and dance with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy. 
  • Download the My Disney Experience app – that is your key to reservations, checking wait times and height restrictions for attractions, photo pass and so much more. The app also features a 50th Anniversary Guide which breaks everything down. 
  • Park hours have been changing, keep this in mind and always double-check open and closure times.
  • Want to relive October 1971 opening? Ride some of the original attractions: Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, Dumbo, Mad Tea Party, Peter Pan’s Flight.
  • IMO: If traveling with little ones, EPCOT is “better” in the early evening. We did Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in the morning, had some early cocktails and bites (after all it is EPCOT), then retired to our pool hotel, returning later in the evening for more Festival fun and fireworks.
  • Disney just announced the return of character greets (with modifications). You still won’t be able to hug and get autographs from your beloved characters but can spend some quality time and take photos. 
  • MouseGear at EPCOT is now Creations Shop where you can pick up your 50th Anniversary merchandise and so much more.

Disney has dubbed this event as The World’s Most Magical Celebration – and it truly is. Have questions? Drop them for us below!

Image: Sandra's family enjoying the celebration (Sandra Jacquemin Contributor Miami Mom Collective)
Remember, when visiting the parks, it is what you make it. There is Magic in the world. It’s up to you to see it.

Can’t get enough Disney? We LOVE Disney World and have a TON of Disney content for you to check out here.

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Sandra is originally born and raised in Miami, fluent in 4 languages and attributes her upbringing as more Brazilian-French. After graduating high school from Gulliver Prep, she pursued a degree in Elementary Education followed by earning a Bachelors in Marketing and International Business. While finishing up university, she opened her boutique marketing agency working with a roster of recognized global brands. Sandra and her husband, a former U.S. Marine, are first-time parents to their son Marcelo Joseph whose middle name pays homage to Sandra's late father who passed just 3 months before they met. They’re also pet rescue parents to their adopted chihuahua with her own Instagram. Her affinity for Disney started when her Mom took her at only 7 days old. Coming around full circle, she has not only worked with the company behind-the-scenes, but they are loyal Disney Passholders. Today, they reside in Pinecrest and are enjoying discovering life as new parents. Look for her posts sharing her love of decluttering, transitioning to non-toxic products, the journey to becoming vegan, starting a small business and so much more! Follow her on Instagram

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